Some investors have halted all acquisitions, but for those still trying to transact in this market, it can be challenging. Everything from underwriting in this uncertain market to completing due diligence with social distancing restrictions has made simply doing a deal difficult.
“This is not going to go on forever, but it is going to go on for a while,” Mark Weinstein, founder and president at MJW Investments, tells GlobeSt.com. “Now, we are just trying to figure out where the rents and occupancy will be a year from now. We are assuming that we will have to absorb everything for the next year, and we have to factor those carrying costs. We are factoring that into the price, and if you don’t get enough of a discount for those carrying costs, then you can’t do the deal.”
Weinstein isn’t necessarily predicting rent decreases, but he does expect that new move-ins will lag. Ultimately, that will mean fewer upgrades to units to keep rents low. “In the long run, I don’t know that rents are going to decrease a lot. One thing that will be different is the rehab of units,” he says. “We have already talked about doing less renovations and getting less rent. We usually buy a property and put lots of money into to achieve certain rents. That is going to go away.”
The goal is not to improve the property beyond the market demand, which could decrease for class-A properties. “We don’t want to put a lot of money into a property and over-improve it because you aren’t going to be getting rents that will warrant it,” says Weinstein. “You want to keep things workforce affordable and reasonably priced.”
MJW Investments focuses on value-add investments, and expects to see opportunity in that market segment, as well as demand for lower quality product. However, he does expect pricing to come down. “People aren’t going to be able to get the rents they were, and sellers are not going to try to be as aggressive as they were before on pricing because the world has changed,” says Weinstein.
Pricing new deals is certainly among the top challenges today, but Weinstein is also seeing challenges completing existing deals that were started before the current restrictions. “Getting inspections and appraisals is going to be difficult. We had locked in some really low interest rates right before this happened, but now we have to finish those deals,” says Weinstein. “It is going to be interesting to see how the lenders are going to do that.”